Heart was in Tempe, not Buffalo

Bobby Hurley’s departure from Buffalo was justified, but wasn’t classy

It’s pretty clear at this point Bobby Hurley’s heart was not in Buffalo, but Hurley doesn’t realize how much of Buffalo’s heart was with him.

When Hurley bolted Buffalo two weeks ago to accept the head coaching vacancy at Arizona State, the men’s basketball program took a hit that will take a while for fans, students and players to accept. And it’s very understandable. Hurley brought this program to national prominence.

Not local. Not state wide. National prominence for the first time in program history.

In March, Hurley and the basketball team were one of the most talked about topics on campus. There was energy in the Student Union and on the Spine that electrified the team’s run to Columbus. Buffalo bars were packed out, trying to catch a glimpse of history at the tournament. Students were excited that their school, which usually doesn’t stand out for athletics, was being circuited on a national level, even to the point where President Barack Obama was highlighting Buffalo on his NCAA bracket.

I can’t blame him for leaving for Arizona State, but I can blame him for the way he left.

Hurley will shine with the Sun Devils, but he forgot who helped him to national prominence (again) in the first place. Yes, Danny White made a mistake with letting Hurley slip away. According to reports from The Buffalo News, Hurley was offered $551,000 a year to become the highest paid coach in the conference.

According to those reports, Hurley was disrespected by the athletic department and was only offered $1,000 more than the highest paid coach currently in the conference.

And just like that, Hurley was in Tempe.

But Hurley made the sensible decision. He was allegedly offered a lot more money in a Power Five conference. Buffalo is a Mid-Major that will have to work to once again make its name in the national spotlight. I would have done the same thing. Hurley reportedly received more than triple what he would have made in Buffalo next season and was lured in by a Pac-12 program. It screams big-time, but it doesn’t scream class.

What really bothers me is his negligence to the City of Buffalo. Hurley was the fuel to a thriving program that was only supposed to get better next year. He even said on “The Herd” on ESPN that his heart was in Buffalo and he wanted to see the program flourish. Even though he would have inevitably left down the road, he could have solidified himself as one of the best Mid-Major coaches in all of college basketball. That could have propelled him to even better coaching jobs such as UCLA or even taking an assistant job at Duke to eventually succeed Mike Krzyzewski.

People who didn’t even know Buffalo had a Division-I basketball program at the beginning of the year were glued to a television watching the March Madness game. But Hurley didn’t want to be at a stepping-stone university anymore. He wanted the big-time again.

I hope he’ll enjoy rebuilding a program 2,500 miles away from home.

So what if he was “insulted” by Buffalo’s offer of $551,000 per year? So what if Buffalo plays in a Mid-Major? He publically said on March 31 that his heart was with Buffalo to watch a program that he built move on to potential national prominence in the coming years.

I guess it costs a lot more than $551,000 for a new heart.

But in the end, the decision is final. Arizona State introduced Hurley as their head coach and told the media in Tempe his platform as their head coach, which mirrors what he did for Buffalo: fast-paced, selfless basketball.

I wish Hurley nothing but luck in his job at Arizona State. He’ll thrive in the Pac-12. I hope that with this job, he continues to coach with the same heart that electrified Alumni Arena this season. I hope he doesn’t coach with the same heart that made him walk away from Buffalo.

Jordan Grossman is a senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com